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Electromyography Testing (EMG)

What is an EMG?

It is a diagnostic test (not a therapy) that assesses the health of the muscles and the nerves controlling the muscles. The test can tell your physician if there is a nerve injury/compression (“pinching”) or a nerve/muscle disease, where it is and how serious it is so that the correct treatment can be started. The specific muscles tested are primarily in the arms and legs; however, occasionally the muscles of the neck and back may have to be tested as well. This is dependent upon your diagnosis.

What are some of the symptoms of nerve or muscle disorders?

Your physician may order you an EMG if you experience the following:

  • Abnormal movements
  • Cramps
  • Numbness/Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Pain

How is the test performed?

In the nerve test, electrodes are placed on the muscle being tested. You may be asked to contract the muscle (for example, by bending your arm). Small pulses of electricity are sent to the nerve and the response is recorded. The results provide information about the ability of your muscle to respond when the nerves are stimulated.

In the muscle test, a very thin needle is inserted into the muscle(s) being tested. The electrical activity of the muscle is recorded on an oscilloscope as well as heard on a loud speaker.

How long does the test take?

The exact time depends on how many nerves and muscles have to be tested. Most examinations last about an hour. For this reason, it is important for you to be on time so that the physician will be able to finish.

Does the test hurt?

Some people say that the thin probes and the electrical stimulations do not bother them. However, most people feel some discomfort from time to time. If this happens to you, the physician can make adjustments to make you more comfortable.

Is there any harm?

No. Neither the nerve or muscle test can cause any harm to you or to your muscles or nerves.

What happens after the test?

You will be sent home and a full report will be sent to your physician. He or she will explain the results to you at your next appointment and also tell you about the treatment.

For the best choice in rehabilitation programs and services, or to schedule an EMG, call (630) 909-8000.